African CatsCultureCinemaMovie reviews
Disneynature’s feature-film African Cats follows the magnificent lions and cheetahs of the Maasai Mara National Reserve in Kenya, a topic that will be familiar to viewers of the BBC’s popular Big Cat Diary series.
In African Cats, directors Keith Scholey and Alastair Fothergill have created a story-driven wildlife documentary that makes for impressive viewing on the big screen. With a family-friendly narration by Sir Patrick Stewart, nature-lovers will enjoy the stunning cinematography capturing the epic lives of Africa’s powerful felines.
Scholey and Fothergill portray the cats as real characters and focus the storyline on three particular groups filmed over two and a half years; the majestic River Pride ruling south of the Mara River, a rival group of male lions patrolling north of the river and a female cheetah raising her five cubs. The mother cheetah, named Sita, is an especially fearless and devoted parent, protecting her young at every instance even if it means standing down a lion three times her size.
Amazing footage of Sita hunting a gazelle is a highlight of the film, with high-speed cameras recording up to 450 frames per second capturing every minor ripple of muscle in her powerful form as the slow-motion chase unfolds. The technical expertise in filming sequences such as this is astounding.
Layla and Mara, a lioness and her cub, are another focus of the documentary. An injury to Layla means her place in the pride is at risk, putting Mara’s survival into question. Fang, leader of the River Pride, is also being threatened by Kali, a striking lion with a black mane, and his fearsome young sons. The real-life dramas of the animal kingdom make compelling viewing.
The team of talented film-makers have gone to great lengths in capturing every detail of these creatures, completely immersing the audience with high-definition close-ups that bring viewers into intimate proximity with the cats. Aerial shots of beautiful landscapes, teeming with wildlife, communicate the vast and unique splendour of the Maasai Mara. Music composed by Nicholas Hooper complements the film perfectly, expressing the drama and emotion of the on-screen action.
It’s the next generation that Disneynature particularly wants to reach with this film, evident in its simplistic narration. Hoping to impress with the raw beauty of the Maasai Mara in order to encourage its future conservation, African Cats is a visual spectacle.
African Cats is on general release from 27th April 2012.
Watch the trailer for African Cats here